Tag Man: A Joe Gunther Novel

by Archer Mayor

(St. Martin’s Press, $25.99, 304 pages)

Who is this author?

Folks who live in Vermont have the reputation of being self-reliant, hard-working people. That perception would surely apply to Archer Mayor, of Newfane, who, besides being a successful novelist with a long list of popular mysteries to his credit, also works as a death investigator for Vermont’s chief medical examiner, a sheriff’s deputy for Windham County, a volunteer firefighter and EMT. He was also a  journalist and historian, not to mention a scholarly editor, a researcher for TIME-LIFE Books, a political advance-man, a theater photographer, a newspaper writer/editor, a lab technician for Paris-Match Magazine in Paris, France, and a medical illustrator. Whew.

In 2004, Mayor won the New England Booksellers Association award for best fiction — the first such honor for a writer in the crime genre.

Mayor has now written 22 mystery novels about Joe Gunther, the head of the (fictional) Vermont Bureau of Investigation.. “Tag Man” is the first of the Gunther novels to appear on the New York Times best-seller list.

.What is this book about?

Someone is breaking into the homes of rich residents of Brattleboro, despite their electronic watchdogs, and leaving sticky notes saying “Tag!” on their night tables. Disconcerting, to say the least. While nothing appears to have been stolen, except some midnight snacks, these mysterious events are making both victims and lawmen uneasy. The press eats the story up, of course, but things take a darker turn when the Tag Man steals some papers from a guy involved with the mob and a series of murders is revealed. Now the Tag Man is “it,” and Joe Gunther has to solve the mystery and perhaps save the life of the mysterious and likeable tagger.

Why you’ll like it:

Because of his real-life experience as an investigator, Mayor knows crime from the inside out, which gives his writing a solid authenticity. He’s also blessed with the ability to create fascinating characters, such as his team of investigators, menacing bad guys and quirky souls like the Tag Man himself.

The Chicago Tribune has called Mayor’s mysteries “the best police procedurals being written in America,” and many are saying “Tag Man” is the best of this rich series. If you like this one, you will have nearly two dozen more of his books to enjoy.

What others are saying:

Kirkus Reviews says: “…Joe Gunther and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation team find themselves in an anomalous position. They have to catch a thief, all right, but in order to protect him. It’s hard to imagine a more likable thief than Mayor’s Tag Man–or, for that matter, a more companionable lawman than the time-and-trouble-tested Sage of Brattleboro.”

“Multiple games of cat-and-mouse ensue as the Tag Man tries to elude both police and a determined killer. Vermont’s history and geography again serve Mayor well in this deadly and highly entertaining entry,” says Publishers Weekly.

“Mayor writes an intelligent mystery. His characters are real, the things that happen to them are logical, and the plot is believable. It’s a pleasure to find a story that captures readers’ attention, makes them care about the characters — and offers such dark chills,”  says the Associated Press.

When is it available?

The Hartford Public Library has it now.

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